Cooper Roussel - Cooper Roussel Indo-European Epic Heroes...

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Cooper Roussel 1/6/08 Indo-European Epic Heroes and Their Quest for Immortal Glory To study the past Indo European Cultures, one must study the epic. According to The American Heritage Dictionary an epic is defined as “an extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.” It is through these epics that twenty first century scholars are able to gain information on cultures buried beneath the earth. Archeological digs and the little written documentation of their society that historians have uncovered shed light on subjects such as architecture, agriculture, and governmental hierarchy. However, it is through the epic poems, and heroes living within them, that define the society. The heroes who are praised in these oral tales represent the ideals of these cultures. They are manifestations of an ideal individual within a society. Either in battle or how they rule their environment, heroes possess traits such as leadership, love, bravery, loyalty and skill. While beacons of mortal perfection, heroes are usually striving for a scarce human privilege that can sometimes make them rash, immortal glory. In the Indo- European Epics Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney, and The Iliad scribed by the poet Homer, we the readers encounter heroic figures that embark on a route of valor to reach a point of eternal fame. This route almost can be defined to a formula where the protagonist must accept their fate unveiled by prophecy or tapestry, engage in a “final battle”, and then die well, where a noble burial etches their legend into history, and bards sing their tales forever. When delving into the concept of a mortal being reaching immortal glory, I must raise the distinction between heroes and gods. Though mortal heroes such as Beowulf of the poem
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Beowulf and Achilles of the Iliad have survived by name to this day, they have not transcended through the boundary between the terrestrial and celestial worlds. However, this was also not
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